In common with most British communities, Collieston was affected in a number of ways by World War 2. Forvie Moor was an important training area for desert warfare, the school hosted a number of evacuee children from Aberdeen and Glasgow and the occasional bombing raid added an interesting dimension to romance for some young villagers……………..

To view the movies you will need to have the Quicktime media player installed on your machine. If you do not have the player, it can be downloaded from here [get quicktime]


Tank traps  
Concrete blocks are all that remain of the extensive WW2 defences along the beach at Forvie Colvid0017
  Norwegian pass  
A form written in English and Norwegian, signed by a Norwegian Brigadier and dated 29th December 1941. The pass was issued to Lewis Mackie, a coast watcher and temporary coastguard, to identify him to any Norwegian Forces which he might meet while on patrol from Collieston to the mouth of the River Ythan, part of the area also covered by the Norwegian Brigade during the 1939-1945 World War.

Once while on patrol Lewis discovered a partly hidden dinghy which had been brought up from the shore by some Germans landing from a submarine. The Germans were eventually caught further north in Moray.

Return to top of page
Jack Walker, whose father Thomas saw active service in the Dardanelles during the First World War, was a child of thirteen when the Second World War broke out. Like so many of his contemporaries, Jack kept a scrapbook which he began compiling after the death of King George V in 1937.

Among the many newspaper cuttings adorning the pages of the wartime years of the scrapbook are some of Jack’s own cartoon drawings of his heroes and villains. Judging by Jack’s depiction of Hitler, he clearly fell into the latter category.

Jack, a cadet in the Merchant Navy, went on to study at the School of Navigation in Aberdeen and by the end of the war in 1942 Jack, then a young man, had seen action in the Mediterranean during the Italian Campaign.

Return to top of page
  Collieston men during World War 1  
Three fishermen from the village who fought in the Great War of 1914-1918. George Buthlay (seated left) saw active service in France on the Western Front. Andrew Mitchell (standing centre) also fought in France on the Western Front and served in the Royal Artillery.

Thomas Walker (seated right) served in the Drake Battalion Royal Naval Division. This special unit of soldiers in the Royal Navy was sent to attack ports. Thomas saw active service in the Dardanelles. All three men returned home safely to Collieston after their wartime service.

Andrew Mitchell and Thomas Walker lived next door to one another in the Low Town area of the village in cottages known at one time as Jubilee Terrace, the houses having been built in 1887 the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It is interesting to note that the cottages are still inhabited by members of their families.

Return to top of page
Slains Lodge becomes a military billit
Whiteness Hotel, viewed from the north circa 1890, stands on a cliff top location in the High Town area of Collieston. Built in the latter half of the 19th Century and consisting of some thirty rooms, it was eventually closed in June 1911 after many of the locals, particularly the women, objected to the hotel's well-attended drinking sessions.

The building was later extended into a shooting lodge and during World War Two it was requisitioned by the Army when Forvie was used as a training ground. By the end of the 20th Century it had been converted into three individual flats.

The smaller two-storey building seen to the left of the main building was the original public bar and servants' quarters.

Return to top of page

  Home on leave during World War 1  

An Army Officer home on leave in 1916. Accompanied by friends and relatives, the young officer is enjoying a welcome break far from the hostilities of World War One. The group of people are seated on a wooden bench near the foreshore on a sunny day in summer.

The houses in the distance are situated on the part of the village known as the Cliff. The grassy mound behind them, the 'Rivie' (the promontory which divides Cransdale from Collieston), is where the 'herdie lad' would have looked after the dairy cows.

Return to top of page

  Sorting sphagnum moss during World War 1  

A group of people are sorting sphagnum moss on the Pier in 1916. During World War One there was an urgent need for emergency field wound dressings and sphagnum moss, with a natural chemical substance that could aid healing, complete with a natural antiseptic, was much sought after.

Sphagnum moss grew in abundance on the Forvie Moors, to the south of Collieston. Groups of people would pick the sphagnum moss and carry it back to the village where it would be sorted before being despatched to field hospitals.

Return to top of page

  Sphagnum moss  
Sphagnum Moss, found in abundance on the moors of the Forvie National Nature Reserve, was in great demand as a field dressing during World War One. With a natural chemical substance that could aid healing, complete with a natural antiseptic, the common plant was much sought after.

In addition to its ability to absorb several times its own weight in water (liquid or blood), Sphagnum Moss was also light to carry, making it ideal for carrying as an in-pocket field dressing.

Return to top of page
  Hitler the monkey  
Jimmy Ingram and Hitler the monkey. Jimmy’s brother, Dick, was a merchant seaman who travelled all round the world in the 1930’s and 40’s. It was during one of his trips that Dick sent home a monkey from West Africa to his parents in Collieston.

The monkey was given the name Hitler and was a great source of fascination for the villagers, especially the children. Hitler, unfortunately, soon earned a reputation as fiercesome as his namesake and it was not unknown for him to bite an inquisitive hand.

The only person who could exert any control over the monkey was Dick’s brother, Jimmy. He became very attached to Hitler and was probably the only person in Collieston to shed a tear when the monkey eventually had to be put down.

Return to top of page

War Memorial

The granite War Memorial in Collieston churchyard commemorates thise men of the parish who were killed during the First World War. Eighteen local men gave their lives serving in all branches of the armed forces as well as in the Merchant Navy.

Return to top of page


Please make a choice from the audio files below.

To listen to the files you will need to have the Quicktime media player installed on your machine. If you do not have the player, it can be downloaded from here [
get quicktime]

Dr Lewis Mackie talks about his father’s role as a Coastwatcher during WW2, as well as describing a pass that was issued by a Norwegian Brigadier.

Dr Lewis Mackie links a near miss to his courting of the girl who was to become his wife.

Dr Lewis Mackie describes a night when the church bells rang to warn of an invasion.
Dr Lewis Mackie talks about an incident when a stray mine blew up.

Ruby Skinner talks about the evacuee children that arrive in Collieston during WW2.

Anne Burns talks about school life in Collieston as an evacuee.

Anne Burns tells more about her life in Collieston as an evacuee.

Dr Lewis Mackie describes the arrival of evacuee children from Glasgow.

Dr Lewis Mackie tells how “Hitler” the monkey came to live in Collieston.

Anne Burns talks about how she and her friends kept themselves amused in Collieston during WW2

Alex Ross talks about WW2 and when the army came to Collieston

Alex Ross describes the incident when as a teenager he was injured following his discovery of a piece of unexploded British ordinance on Forvie Moor
copyright collieston's century 2003